To get to the desert, I went through the desert, and also over a mountain. (Like I said, it’s always about journey.) I went on a tour with Camel Safaries, one of the many tour companies operating out of Marrakech, and over the course of 3 days and 2 nights, we wended our way over the High Atlas Mountains through Tizi n’Tichka Pass, stopped in Ait Benhaddou, drove through the Dades Valley, walked in a bit of Todra (Todgha) Gorge, and sped across the the black sands surrounding the small town of Merzouga, where we mounted up on camels and trekked into the Erg Chebbi part of the Sahara Desert. It was a heckuva road trip.
Tour guide driver Hassan takes a break in the Dades Valley, Morocco
Desert always means journey. Nomads living in it, tourists traveling across it, refugees escaping through it — the Sahara is wide and the journey often long. We move across its orange-golden dunes with no sense that we will ever reach anything but another dune. Even the small part of it I visited in February, the Erg Chebbi, seemed endless when I was in it. I had traveled by minivan over a two-day span, and then by camel for another hour and a half, and the anticipation and tedium of the long journey had built up, but once I was in the middle of the desert, that all blew away to nothingness.